Most special of them all: Delhi Vs Railways

Published: Wednesday, November 24, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi :One of the many good things that the two-tier format has done to Ranji Trophy cricket is the derby between Delhi and Railways.

Sure, there are other match-ups like Mumbai Vs Maharashtra and Andhra taking on Hyderabad, but their origin lies in the pre-Independence days of the cricket Board and most often turn out to be a one-sided affairs.

The Delhi-Railways contest has a more recent birth. The latter, though headquartered in the city, played in the Central Zone in the previous format.

And although the two teams have met on more than one occasion in the knockout stages, the regular basis on which they have took on each other in the last three seasons has made the clash the most looked forward to of the domestic championships.

What makes the event special is the standard of the competition. Railways winning the title in 2001-02 has helped in lending it a sort of respectability, too.

And the pendulum has swung from one side to the other with each passing year. Railways won outright the last time two teams met at the Karnail Singh stadium whereas Delhi gained a first innings lead in the previous year.

The cricket Gods must have relished the feast. How else would one explain the two strongest teams of the region being drawn in same group each year?

The early winter's foggy conditions at once enhance the contest and mar it too. Seamers running in and hurling the shiny red cherry, the batsman driving it or edging it to slip, fielders rubbing the chill off their hands and accepting it with glee provide an ideal setting .

On the other hand, it would mean a delayed start. Perhaps each morning. Strategy and luck could play a key role then.

Fans would appreciate that the match beginning tomorrow is being held at the Jamia Millia University grounds. But, from the 'members only' episode during Delhi's previous match against Andhra at the Roshanara Club to rowdy students, it would be a swing to the other extreme.

The ground staff have readied two wickets, one with a fair amount of grass and another with less.

It would be interesting to see what Delhi opts for. With a strong pace attack they have and given the moist conditions, it would be natural to choose the greenish one. But Railways seamers Harvinder Singh and J P Yadav have been in top form too.

Railways coach Vinod Sharma said that should the match be played on the brownish wicket, he might include a spinner, probably G Shankar Rao, in place of a seamer from the team that played Bengal last week.

Delhi have four points and Railways two from two matches each.

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